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Recent research increasingly shows that the use of hearing aids in older adults with hearing loss can help slow cognitive decline.

About one-third of American adults 65 to 74 have hearing loss, with that percentage jumping to 50% after the age of 75, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Meanwhile, the number of older adults with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia is expected to triple over the next 40 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dementia may begin to show itself with mild memory loss, with symptoms worsening over time. Individuals with Alzheimer’s and dementia experience significant problems with memory, language, thinking skills and behavior.

A study first published in 2018 measured cognitive performance in more than 2,000 Americans for 18 years, both before and after they wore hearing aids. Brain function was measured through the use of memory tests asking subjects to recall 10 words.

Researchers discovered that the use of hearing aids was positively associated with episodic memory scores, while a decline in these scores was slower with hearing aids than it was before the devices were introduced. According to the research, cognitive decline was 75% slower after subjects began wearing the hearing devices.

Individuals were better able to remember a list of 10 words after wearing hearing aids than they could before using them. Scientists believe that when people hear sounds around them, their brain is better able to process these sounds and work more normally. Researchers have also found decreased rates of depression and increased socialization and physical activity – both of which can spur cognitive processes – in those treating their hearing loss.

The study concluded that hearing aids might help slow the trajectory of cognitive decline in senior citizens. Using hearing aids – especially in the earlier stages of hearing loss – could help stem the rise of dementia, they reported.

If you’re concerned about hearing loss and how hearing aids can help give you a better quality of life, contact us online at Audiology & Hearing Services of Charlotte or call us at 704-412-7975.

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